Wendy Carlisle The 2River View, 6.1 (Fall 2001)

The Horse We Rode In On

The theme you play at the start of a number is the territory and what comes after
Which may have very little to do with it is the adventure.
Ornett Coleman

A boring car trip ended near the ocean where tongues of pine lick the dusty glass, and mice, upholstery tacks, buttons & lint, vie for a room with a view, and the cracked music on the radio growls cocktail lounge, double scotch. We made the slick drive from home all the while feeling the humidity exhale on our necks, dissecting the map and counting motorcycle cops. Only yesterday the mare died in the palmetto scrub. We dragged her stiffening body behind the tractor with a chain while her side made a shallow furrow in the field and iridescent horseflies danced over her hooves, then drove away while the old man who interferes with fillies dug her grave.

We were at Stuckey’s eating Peanut Patties when he buried her too shallow. We were at the rest stop when he put on his prison suit, pressed a knife of gin under his ribs and wound himself up like a cheap travel clock. We were investigating a Manta Ray when the mare’s foreleg jumped up through the sod for the dog’s high tea. This morning we lay plates on the gritty planks as if the Grand Duchess had just been crowned, as if this were the normal two weeks in seaweed dodging men-o-war, ammonia ready in the car. We sucked up the time and temperature, rifled the Almanac and issues of Guns and Ammo left behind by Mr. R & R intent on hunting animals off this back porch where we sat, tipped-back, our eyes closed to animals, ignoring the old man, who ticked for days in his tobacco-stained house all the time wondering how to find a new wife.

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2River All is well.